Sunday, July 31, 2016

Remembering Gentleman Jim Reeves

Country music's Jim Reeves was killed in an airplane crash on July 31, 1964.

August 4, 1964
Panola Watchman, Carthage, Texas)


"The body of Travis (Jim) Reeves returned to Panola County Tuesday afternoon just before dusk, to be buried in a site that will become a memorial. The site is a two-acre plot located one-half miles east of Carthage on the south side of U.S. Highway 79 near the Liberty Chapel Baptist Church.Double funeral services were held for the well-known country music singer from Panola County and his companion, Dean Manuel at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.The two men were found dead in the wreckage of a private single engine plane 10 miles south of Nashville. Manuel was Reeves’ piano player and road manager and they were returning to their homes in Nashville from a business trip to Batesville, Arkansas.In an interview with Ray Baker, manager for Reeves, he told the Watchman of the accident as near as possible. The plane in which they were flying was rented from a Nashville airport and piloted by Reeves. He frequently flew on business trips and was a good pilot, related Baker. Less than ten minutes from their destination, Reeves radioed to the airport that they were flying in an extremely heavy thunder and rainstorm. The airport control tower later checked with Reeves—asking if he had passed through the storm. The answer was negative. Further attempts were made to contact the Reeves flight by radio—and all proved negative.The plane was reported down at 5 p.m. Friday, July 31. The light aircraft crashed in a wooded area about 100 feet behind a house just off U.S. Highway 31. A Tennessee highway patrolman reported that residents of the house were away at the time of the crash.More than 700 volunteer searchers, Civil Defense workers and police combed a 20-square-mile area for two days. Many of the searchers were Reeves’ friends and associates in the country music business. They included guitarist Chet Atkins and singer Eddy Arnold, Stonewall Jackson and Ernest Tubb.Marty Robins, a close friend of Reeves and also an entertainer, lived within a short distance of where the plane crashed and heard the roar of an airplane engine Friday evening and then a loud thud…as if it had plunged into the ground. When he heard of the accident and searching operations, he notified authorities of what he heard and informed them the direction in which he thought the wreckage might be located.The wreckage was located at 1 p.m. Sunday and the engine of the plane was partly buried and it was reported by Tennessee highway patrolmen that it looked as if someone had gone out and dumped some debris and trash. Reeves’ body was identified from a driver’s license taken from the wreckage.The governor of Tennessee, Frank Clements was a personal friend of Jim Reeves and provided a four-engine U.S. Air Force Strato-Cruiser plane from the National Guard to transport his body, family and associates from Nashville to Shreveport. Hawthorn Funeral Home ambulance transferred the body from Shreveport to Carthage Tuesday evening.Baker said that Reeves had experienced a phenomenal growth in popularity in the United States and Europe during the past ten years. Several polls had recently been taken in England, Holland and other European countries that placed Jim Reeves as the number one favorite singer of country music. The big friendly smile and rich baritone voice of Jim Reeves will be a memory in the hearts of several million people for a long time. Panola County will always cherish his memory as one of her finest gentlemen."

August 6, 1964
Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA)


"CARTHAGE, TEX -- Country music singer Jim Reeves was returned to the red hills of his permanent home yesterday and the velvet-voiced singer drew his last packed house as some of the greats and near greats of the hillbilly field wiped tears from their eyes. Silent hundreds filed past his casket in the Hawthorn Funeral Home of Carthage all morning prior to the 3 p.m. funeral services for the singer who was killed last Friday in an airplane crash near Nashville, Tenn.Burial was in a private cemetery near Carthage where the 39-year-old singer once roamed the red hills of East Texas. The grave and memorial site is located just off the highway between Carthage and Shreveport.Gentleman Jim’s friends from throughout Texas and the musical world were here for the services and burial of the farm boy who sang and strummed his way to the top of the nation’s country and popular record lists in 11 tuneful years.The 400-seat Central Baptist Church, extra rooms and hallways were filled for the services. Extra chairs were placed in the aisles and halls, and those who could not find seats stood in the rear of the auditorium or outside the building.The estimated audience of 800 was silent throughout the 20-minute service. No songs were sung and only two organ selections were played: “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”The casket was surrounded by huge floral wreaths, one shaped like a harp, another like a guitar, one like a baseball and several like a musical note.Another wreath made of orchid asters and orchid doty mums was placed behind the casket in memory of his 1942 graduation class at Carthage High School. A color photograph of the smooth-voiced singer rested at the head of the casket, which was covered with yellow carnations and bronze mums.Dr. V. L. McKee, pastor of the church, paid tribute to the sophisticated styled country singer, who picked up the nickname of “Gentleman Jim” as a boy.Dr. McKee said, “His good name did not begin with his fame. It began when he was a small boy growing up here in this community…. He was a gentleman as a boy and a gentleman as a man. That is about as fine a tribute that could be paid to any citizen.”His nickname followed him throughout his career because, “He always had a minute to stop and talk,” said Bill Deaton of San Antonio, who handled Reeves’ engagements in Texas.Deaton was among hundreds of Reeves’ business associates and relatives who attended the services.Reeves’ widow, whom he has been married to for 16 years was present along with his brothers and sisters. The Reeves had no children. Reeves’ mother of DeBerry was not able to attend because of illness.Also present was Dick O’Shoughnessy, one of the supporting stars in Jim’s hit movie, “Kimberly Jim” which was recently filmed in South Africa and scheduled to be released soon.Other musicians present were Dewey Groom of Dallas, Ed McLemore of the Big D Jamboree, Horace Logan, who was in charge of the Louisiana Hayride when Jim first rose to fame, Bobby Garrett, a former member of Reeves’ band, Ray Baker, his business manager, and Cindy Walker, who wrote many of Jim’s songs.Reeves’ popularity was not limited to the United States. His song, “I Love You Because,” currently ranked in the top five songs in Scandinavian countries and Ireland. His songs have made the top of the hit list for the past five years in South Africa, where he learned to sing to the people in their own language.Considered a standout as far as an individual is concerned to those close to him, Reeves and his wife were recently in San Antonio looking for a ranch to buy. He flew to San Antonio in the same plane in which he died only days later.


Legendary Banjo Player and Wayne County, Kentucky Native Don Parmley is Dead at 83.

Wayne County, Kentucky native Don Parmley, a lifelong banjo player and patriarch of the legendary Bluegrass Cardinals, has died. He was 83 years old.

Born in 1933, Parmley’s family left Wayne County and moved west to California when Don was a young boy. There, he developed a fascination with bluegrass music and Earl Scruggs' style of banjo playing. In the early 60's, Don was a founding member of The Hillmen, which included future icons Vern Gosdin and Chris Hillman, along with Vern's brother, Rex Gosdin.

The Hillmen became popular in southern California, appearing frequently on television. While Earl Scruggs played the banjo on The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, Don played all the other banjo music for show.

In 1965, Chris Hillman left The Hillmen to join The Byrds. Vern Gosdin went on to become a major country music star and his brother Rex became a successful songwriter. In 1974, Don formed The Bluegrass Cardinals with his son, David, who was only 15 years old at the time.

The Bluegrass Cardinals were together for 23 years, with many top artists joining him along the way, including the group's co-founder, Randy Graham, plus Larry Stephenson, Herschel Sizemore, Mike Hartgrove, Warren Blair and Don Rigsby. The group recorded a number of albums considered essential in the bluegrass canon. They are credited with being the first bluegrass band to record bluegrass gospel in a cappella. The Bluegrass Cardinals disbanded in 1997 when Don announced his retirement.

Don Parmley's lifetime contributions to bluegrass music are many and deserves to be officially recognized. A legion of fans and friends in the bluegrass community are left to mourn his loss.

This sign greets travelers as they enter Wayne Co., KY on Highway 90.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Witnessing A Debate Between Ark Encounter creator Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the Science Guy"

A second unscheduled "debate" between Ken Ham, who built the new Ark Encounter at Williamstown, Kentucky, and Bill Nye "the Science Guy," best known as the host of a children's science show that ran on PBS from 1993 to 1998, occurred this past Friday, July 8, 2015 in front of hundreds of people, including myself and others from Clear Fork Baptist Church in Albany, Kentucky at the Ark Encounter. The first one occurred at Ham's previous project, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, in November of 2014.

The Ark is part of a ministry that teaches Old Testament stories as true historical events. Nye had previously called the ark "a danger to the nation's science education" and had said he hoped it would never be built, because it would "indoctrinate children into this extraordinary and outlandish, unscientific point of view." The ark opened to the public last Thursday, July 7, 2016.

A few weeks ago, Ham had publicly invited Nye to tour the life-size Ark that opened July 7, and offered to personally show him through. Nye accepted. Apparently Bill is the host of an upcoming science documentary and wanted to bring along a video crew as they walked through the Ark. It really turned into an almost 2 hour debate as they walked through all three decks of the Ark. Both Ham and Nye agreed to video the entire discussion as they walked. Numerous children, teens and adults swarmed around them as they passionately interacted as the audience grew.

Like the previous day, which was opening day, there were thousands of visitors at the Ark Encounter on Friday and a large group of them had a unique opportunity they will never forget. Nye challenged Ham about the content of many of the exhibits, and Ham challenged Nye about what he claimed and what he believed. It was a clash of world views. At one point Ham asked Nye: what would happen to you when you die? He said when you die "you're done." Ham then asked Nye why he was concerned about what is being taught at the Ark if when we die we're "done."

The Ark Encounter is four levels, including the ground floor. The exchange between Ham and Nye moved from level to level. It began on the third level where, coincidentally, a few from my church group were at. Three of us stumbled upon the exchange minutes after it began and quickly notified others via cell phone to come watch. As you can see in the above photo, which I took, myself and two others in my group stood within arms reach of Nye and Ham and we were able to both photograph and record what we saw and heard. You can see photos on my Facebook page.

We couldn't believe our ears when Nye told Ham that it's "not crazy to believe we descended from Martians." Ham responded by asking Nye if it was "crazy to believe we descended from Adam and Eve!" The interaction between Ham, Nye and the crowd lasted two hours. Young people also came up and spoke with Nye and asked him questions, and challenged him. Specifically, we witnessed an exchange between Nye and a young lady from Iowa. One member of our group even asked Nye a couple of questions.

Ham is also the founder of Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Ham mentioned AiG's PhD scientists, Nye said they were all incompetent, so Ham encouraged Nye to speak with them. Ham had opportunity to share the gospel with Nye a number of times as they strolled through the Ark.

As they made their way through the first floor in front of life-size models of Noah and his family who were depicted praying, Ham asked Nye if he would mind if he prayed, and could he pray for him. Nye responded that Ham could do whatever he wanted, that he couldn't stop him. So while a large group of people were gathered around, Creation Museum and Ark Encounter creator, Ken Ham, publicly prayed for Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Ham asked Nye if they could be friends. Nye replied that they could be acquaintances with mutual respect, but not friends.

Ham later wrote that he never expected their meeting would turn into a two hour debate, but he said sometimes those spontaneous happenings can be very fruitful and exciting. Ham said it was so fitting that with the opening of the Ark Encounter, this massive ship is being used to witness to such a well known personality. The meeting between Ham and Nye ended with a friendly handshake. For more information on the Ark Encounter, a world-class themed attraction that is now open to the public, go to I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Simon & Garfunkel - The Complete Collection (Columbia, 1980)

Simon & Garfunkel - The Complete Collection (1980), 60-song, 5-LP vinyl box set(P5 15333) manufactured by Columbia Special Products and originally made available by mail-order via Tee Vee Records.

Record One:
1. The Sounds Of Silence
2. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
3. Sparrow
4. My Little Town
5. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
6. A Most Peculiar Man
7. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
8. Keep The Customer Satisfied
9. He Was My Brother
10. Kodachrome
11. Somewhere They Can't Find Me
12. Bookends

Record Two:
1. I Am A Rock
2. Save The Life Of My Child
3. Peggy-O
4. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
5. April Come She Will
6. Overs
7. The Boxer
8. Cloudy
9. You Can Tell The World
10. All I Know
11. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
12. 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night

Record Three:
1. Mrs. Robinson 
2. Second Avenue
3. The Sun Is Burning
4. A Hazy Shade Of Winter
5. Baby Driver
6. You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies
7. America
8. Bye Bye Love
9. Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
10. Loves Me Like A Rock
11. Leaves That Are Green
12. The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine

Record Four:
1. Cecilia
2. Anji
3. Bleecker Street
4. At The Zoo
5. Flowers That Never Bend With The Rainfall
6. Blessed
7. Homeward Bound
8. Song For The Asking
9. We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'
10. Fakin' It
11. 99 Miles From L.A.
12. Benedictus

Record Five:
1. Bridge Over Troubled Water
2. Kathy's Song
3. Old Friends
4. The Dangling Conversation
5. The Only Living Boy In New York
6. Punky's Dilemma
7. Scarborough Fair/Canticle
8. Richard Cory
9. Patterns
10. Mother And Child Reunion
11. Why Don't You Write Me
12. A Simple Desultory Phillippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating July 4th at Hale's Mill

The possible site of Hale's Mill, downstream from Wolf River Bridge on Highway 111 in Pickett County, TN.

"On the 4th day of July 1861, near a thousand men, women and children of Overton and Fentress Counties, Tennessee, met at Hale’s Mill and celebrated the day, as had been the custom in former years. They raised a hickory pole, on which was hoisted the old flag. Dr. Hale’s daughters and their teacher, sang the “Star Spangles Banner.” Mrs. Hale, read the Declaration of Independence, and the whole concourse of people partook of a bountiful repast prepared by our women, every one of whom opposed revolution in every shape." - J.D. Hale.

The Civil War had begun twenty-two days earlier. Our ancestors thought this area was too remote to be included in any war, but it came nearly three months later to Travisville. The date was September 29,1861. The Affair at Travisville, as it became known, was the first military action of any kind during the Civil War in Tennessee. Not only in shots fired, but also in the first fatalities. Four Confederate soldiers were killed and four others were captured.

Almost four months later, on January 19, 1862, the Battle of Mill Springs was fought at nearby Nancy, Ky in Wayne  and Pulaski counties. The war coming here was inevitable. By its end, 10,500 battles, engagements and other military actions had occured, including nearly 50 major battles and about 100 others that had major significance. The remainder were skirmishes, reconnaissances, naval engagements, sieges, bombardments, etc. The engagements were fought in 23 different states and resulted in a total of over 650,000 deaths.

In October of 1845, Jonathan Hale and John Jouett began to erect grist and saw mills on Wolf River. This 100-acre property was in the area where the Farmhouse Restaurant is located on Highway 111, between Byrdstown and the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. Hale established a two-story mill and store and served as postmaster at Hale's Mill. It was said that he also operated a manufacturing facility there, producing wagons and furniture.

Hale, known as J.D.,  had been born in Stoddard, Massachusetts in the year 1817. He stood five-feet-nine inches high with a heavy build. He was rather stooped, or round at the shoulder. His head was long and narrow. His hair was a sandy color and he was said to have a gray eye. He and his wife, Pheroba Chilton (1826-1905), had seven children.

When the Civil War started in 1861, Hale and his family declared for the Union. As a matter of fact, he was among the first to denounce and expose session. The U. S. Army appointed him a captain and Chief of Scouts of the Army of the Cumberlands. In this capacity he served under General George Thomas. Hale reported on the activities of Confederate leaders Morgan, Forrest, and Wheeler. He also recruited men in Tennessee for the Union army.

The massive July 4th celebration that had taken place at Hale's Mill, coupled with Hale's expressions of loyalty to the United States, infuriated Confederate sympathizers. Hale's family was forced to flee across the state line to Albany, Ky for safety. Three days after the July 4th celebration, all of Hale's property was destroyed by fire. $20,000 worth of buildings and materials were burned, including Hale’s home and two other houses, a large library in Hale’s house, worker's cabins, a barn, stable, store, still house, kitchen, grist and saw mill, 1000 bushels of corn, planning machine, mortising machine, running lathe, circular saws, tolls, lumber, wagons, and furniture. In 1864, a military commission awarded Hale $25,000 in a assessment levied against those accused of burning his property.

The Civil War officially ended on May 9, 1865. The 4th of July celebration across America that year was unlike any other in the nation’s history. An uneasy mix of joy, relief, resentment and unhealed wounds was reported as Americans sought reasons for celebration after a war that nearly tore apart the country.

Three months earlier, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at a Virginia courthouse and, days later, John Wilkes Booth fatally shot President Lincoln in a Washington theater. Richmond and much of the rest of the South were in ruins, ruled by the U.S. military, while an untested President Andrew Johnson was trying to find his way forward. He looked to the 4th of July as a launching point to reunify not just the states, but also the hearts and minds of their inhabitants. “Of all the anniversaries of the Declaration of Independence, none has been more important and significant than that upon which you assemble,” he proclaimed. “Let us trust that each recurring 4th of July shall find our nation stronger in number, stronger in wealth, stronger in the harmony of the citizens, stronger in its devotion to nationality and freedom.”

For the first time in more than four years, Independence Day 1865 dawned without Americans on the battlefield trying to kill other Americans. Contemporary accounts and newspaper stories depicted a subdued, at times somber celebration in a country struggling to recover a sense of normalcy. In some places, the holiday was barely observed at all.

And so it was that on July 4, 1865, a group once again gathered at the Hale's Mill site to celebrate Independence Day, as well as the outcome of the war. They hoisted the 'old flag' and attendants fired a 34-gun salute. Hale’s daughters again sang the Star Spangled Banner and this time it was Hale who read the Declaration of Independence.

In his book, "The Bloody Shirt," Hale wrote, "In what does freedom consist? What is meant by the expression to be free, which really has no meaning at all in this connection, for the ex-slaves as a mass are not so free to be contented as they were at the commencement [of the war] in which we considered it honorable to destroy one another...what signified to the soldier wisdom, purity, patriotism, while an ounce of lead pierced him and he died in the midst of thousands of other dying men, whose last view was of their homes destroyed by fire and sword, amid the cries of their women and children perishing - all for pretended principles no one knew the merits of?"

By 1871, the Hale family had left this area for New Hampshire. Jonathan died of old age in 1896. In 2011, Tennessee honored him by erecting a historical marker near the site of Hale's Mill on Highway 111 in Pickett County. It is located beside the Farmhouse Restaurant.

Jonathan Hale, left, and Tinker Dave Beaty

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...